La Fortaleza

La Fortaleza

Juan Ponce de León.
Named captain, judge and governor of the island of San Juan Bautista, which established the political government of the Indies in the Americas.

Juan Cerón.
Named by Diego Colón who, under the Santa Fe pact, had permission to designate governors in the Indies. He was removed from office due to reports submitted by Juan Ponce de León.

Rodrigo de Moscoso.
Occupied the post of lieutenant governor. The new governor arrived from the port of San Germán accompanied by Diego Colón.

Cristóbal de Mendoza.
Lieutenant governor. Governed from San Germán, where Diego Colón had established the capital of the island.

Sancho Velázquez.
Velázquez was authorized to give Indians to settlers and was later named chief justice. In 1519, he was investigated, jailed and sentenced by Bishop Alonso Manso. He died in prison.

Antonio de la Gama,
Interim governor. He married one of the daughters of Juan Ponce de León and resigned from the post of governor of the island. He was named governor again in 1528.

Pedro Moreno,
Lieutenant governor. Was also the first prosecutor for San Juan. He was relieved of his post and Bishop Alonso Manso was named as his successor, but he returned to power a second time in 1525.

Bishop Alonso Manso.
Was named lieutenant governor from the middle of 1522, on an interim basis, by Diego Colón. Through his efforts, the diocese of Puerto Rico acquired jurisdiction over all the islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Pedro Gasque.
Lieutenant governor.

Pedro Moreno.
Governor for a second time.

Antonio de la Gama.
Governor for the second time. Governed until December of 1529. He was then named governor of the Spanish territories in Central America. He was later given the title of governor of Pizarro in Peru (1537), while his family continued to reside in San Germán.

Francisco Manuel de Lando.
The first census was held in 1531 under his governorship and recorded a total of 3,058 residents, including 387 Spanish, 1,148 Indians and 1,523 black slaves. In a letter to King Carlos V, he emphasized the strategic value of the island for Spain, describing it as “…the entrance and the key to all the Indies…” When the widow of Christopher Columbus ceded all of her powers over the Indies to the Spanish Crown, he felt compelled to resign his post.

Vasco de Tiedra,
Named lieutenant governor by Luis Colón. Governed from San Germán.

Alcaldes ordinarios (Magistrate)
By royal order, the aldermen of the councils of the cities of Puerto Rico, today San Juan, and San Germán, were authorized to elect from their residents the mayors who would govern with both civil and military authority.

Jerónimo (or Gerónimo) Lebrón.
He assumed power when the government of the mayors was ended. He was named to occupy the post that belonged to the grandson of Juan Ponce de León, who could not govern because he was a minor. During his brief term, Lebrón wrote the New Laws of 1942, with the help of Bishop Bastidas, which declared the Indians free, just like any Spanish citizen.

Iñigo López de Loaysa.
Governor and warden of La Fortaleza. In his brief term in office, he made the first structural reforms at La Fortaleza.

Antonio de la Vega.
Judge in residence and governor of the city and island of Puerto Rico

Luis de Vallejo.
Given the title of judge in residence and governor of the city and island by royal decree in Madrid. He governed the island from San Germán. His five years in power were distinguished by his controversial decisions and the political consequences of his marriage to a granddaughter of Juan Ponce de León.

Alonso de Estevez.
He was appointed interim governor, but when he arrived on the island, the council members requested that he be confirmed as the permanent governor.

Diego de Carasa.
Iinterim mayor. He assumed the post for a second time in 1555. First representative of King Felipe II on the island.

Francisco Bahamonde de Lugo.
Governor by title granted in Aranjuez. First in a series of governors who were soldiers.

Francisco de Solís.
Named judge in residence, governor and top justice. He was the first to take residence in La Fortaleza, thus making it the official governor’s palace.

Francisco de Ovando y Mexía.
De Ovando was taken hostage by French pirates and died while held by his captors. In his absence, he was replaced by Juan Troche, a military engineer and grandson of Juan Ponce de León.

Captain Juan de Céspedes.
He was buried in the presbytery of the San José Church in San Juan. First governor to obtain the title of Captain.

Gerónimo de Agüero Campuzano,
Interim governor.

Captain Juan López de Melgarejo.
Named interim governor. During his term, el Morro was rebuilt. He took charge of creating a geographic description of the island.

Captain Diego Menéndez de Valdés.
Held office for 11 years, the first example of a long period of command. He organized the War Board of Puerto Rico. Under his governorship, engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli created the plans for the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro. There is some controversy about his family name. Some historians call him Méndez and others Meléndez. According to Cayetano Coll y Toste, his official name was Menéndez.

Colonel Pedro Suárez.
During his government, he faced an attack by English forces of Francis Drake. The climate, dysentery, and the defenses decimated the English forces, which had to withdraw after three months.

Captain Antonio de Mosquera.
The attack by Count Cumberland on Puerto Rico occurred during his time in office.

1599- 1602
Captain Alonso de Mercado.
Governor, captain general, and warden of La Fortaleza. His leadership was praised by the local council. He arrived on the island after 40 years of service in Europe and the Americas.

Note: These articles have been edited and checked by academics and specialists in History. Discrepancies may exist among historians regarding some data.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 11, 2014.

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